Digita vs traditional play

Digital vs. Traditional Types of Play

Play, a cornerstone of childhood, not only brings joy and creativity but also plays a pivotal role in shaping cognitive and behavioral skills in preschoolers. Recent research by A. N. Veraksa and colleagues delves into the lasting impact of various play activities on executive function skills in preschoolers. In this blog post, we’ll explore the study’s fascinating findings and discuss their implications for promoting holistic cognitive development through play.

The Study

Veraksa and team set out to examine the sustainability of developmental effects stemming from different play activities—role play, play with rules, and digital play—on preschoolers’ executive function skills. The focus was on cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control, recognizing the potential of these activities to influence these crucial skills.

Key Findings

The study uncovered intriguing insights into the long-term impact of play on cognitive development. All three types of play initially led to significant improvements in executive function. However, role play and play with rules demonstrated sustained developmental effects, aligning with the cultural-historical approach to child development. Digital play, while effective in the short term, did not lead to lasting improvements in cognitive flexibility and working memory but did show sustainable development of inhibitory control.

Role Play

Role play is a culturally conditioned type of activity in which children act out different areas of real life in conditioned situations, thus learning social roles and communication skills. From a cultural-historical approach, role play has the most important impact on mental development in the pre-school years and the greatest developmental potential for executive function skills.

Role play in Early Childhood Education

Play with Rules

Play with rules is a type of play that imposes rules that must be followed throughout the play. The advantage of this type of play for the EF development is that it allows to vary the complexity of the tasks for cognitive regulation by adding new game components, changing and complicating motor or cognitive guidelines (Savina et al., 2017). This allows to regulate and increase the activation level of working memory, cognitive flexibility and inhibitory control.

Digital Play and Digital Games

Digital games are computer programs that guide and control play on various electronic devices. Recent research in executive function development indicates that digital games can positively impact children’s working memory (Di Lieto et al., 2020), cognitive flexibility, and inhibition (Veraksa et al., 2022). However, some studies suggest that the positive short-term effects on working memory may fade away in the long run if exposure to the games stops (Bergman Nutley et al., 2011). The mixed results may stem from the fact that while digital games offer intense engagement, they often focus on training a specific skill rather than a combination of different executive function skills.

Digital play in Early Childhood Education

Digital play, while effective in the short term, did not lead to lasting improvements in cognitive flexibility and working memory but did show sustainable development of inhibitory control.

Implications for Early Childhood Education

These findings carry significant implications for early childhood education. Educators can harness the power of role play and play with rules as tools for nurturing children’s executive function skills over the long term. Incorporating these activities into early learning environments provides children with opportunities to enhance cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control. A balanced approach to digital play is essential. While it may offer short-term benefits for inhibitory control, supplementing these activities with other forms of play supports holistic cognitive development.

Promoting Holistic Development

The research emphasizes viewing executive function not merely as cognitive and behavioral skills but as a system indicator of the voluntary character of human mental functions. Recognizing the multifaceted nature of executive function allows educators and caregivers to design play-based activities that holistically support children’s cognitive and behavioral development.

As we continue to explore the intersection of play and cognitive development, it becomes increasingly clear that play a powerful catalyst for shaping young minds and preparing them for future success.

Elevate your teaching skills and stay ahead of the curve! Receive our monthly Insights, packed with professional development opportunities, classroom inspiration, and the latest trends in education. Don’t miss out on the chance to take your teaching to the next level. Subscribe now!

Similar Posts